Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It's A World of Laughter, A World of Tears

We're getting ready for our trip to Disney tomorrow. We've been on the countdown for weeks (months, really), and the excitement has really been mounting around here. In fact, Clare's threshold for thrills was put to the test the past two days, because not only was our big vacation so close, but they were also starting "work stations" in her class this week! She truly couldn't contain her excitement for either one. Is it any wonder her teacher was gushing to me about her?

I am admittedly unabashedly boasting about Clare right now, but I feel like I have a good reason. The past few weeks have given me several opportunities to be proud: the impressed parents complimenting her after playdates and a sleepover; the carpool mom who loves the influence she has on her daughter; and the teacher who is so clearly smitten with her. I try very hard not to take these qualities in Clare for granted, but at the end of the day I know I do, and I know I'm often way too hard on her. Such is the relationship between almost all mothers and daughters, no?

This afternoon cast Clare in yet another impressive light. In the midst of planning and preparing for our vacation (I'm certain the U.S. Military could teach me a thing or two about preparing for troop movements), I nearly forgot that I had scheduled the orthodontic evaluation that her dentist recommended. Although knowing that it was right before our trip, I've also been in pre-baby mode and wanted to go ahead and get the appointment on the calendar. Of course, since I forgot I also neglected to tell Clare about it. When I picked her up from our carpool's house and informed her, she was a tad cautious but generally seemed fine when I assured her that they were simply looking at her mouth.

I don't know if either one of us was prepared for the conversation that accompanied this look at her teeth. The progno$i$ for her mouth is a combination of overbite, crossbite, and then whatever it's called when your front teeth are pushed up and out - the result of sucking her finger for 7.5 years. A thumb-sucker myself for far too many years, I knew the time would come when we would need to kick the habit. I even nagged at her occasionally about it, but never really had a strategy for the issue. Enter Dr. King. She had a terrific approach with Clare, asking her age-appropriate questions, showing genuine interest in her, and also speaking directly to her about her mouth and what we needed to do about it. The first step: stop sucking her finger. An addendum to this step: lose the lovey, which for Clare is her beloved Annie Bear.

It was at this point that I expected Clare to lose it. As I watched her absorb everything the doctor said to her, I could see that she was making a decision within herself to be a big girl, not cry, and above all was going to make this happen. There may have been a few tears in her eyes, but she was determined not to shed them - at which point I nearly lost it myself. Danny flat-out did, crying to me, "But Clare loves Annie Bear!"

There are two items that somewhat explain Clare's determination. The first was Dr. King's order that to keep her distracted from trying to suck her finger at bedtime (about the only time she does), she should read books. As many as it takes to fall asleep. No arguing from mom or dad. Truly a best-case scenario as far as Clare is concerned. But if that was the carrot, then the stick was the news that followed. If she fails to stop sucking her finger, the doctor will have to insert a metal device on the roof of her mouth that will poke her finger if she tries to put it in there. Clare has made it clear she wants nothing to do with this.

As I write this, Clare is reading in her room. She very casually tossed Annie Bear to me while we were packing Danny's clothes for the trip. She spent the remainder of the afternoon and evening sharing stories from her school day, joking around with Danny, and just generally acting completely normal. Totally composed. Sometimes I think she should be the head of our house. She is awesome. And by golly, we're going to Disney World!

1 comment:

Allyson Balzuweit said...

Well, we sure think she's pretty awesome! Love this post, Liz. It speaks volumes about resilience, pulling it together, etc etc. Way to go, Clare!!